From the Angelus on 2 September:
… All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!
I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.
May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace.
To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.
On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mat, Queen of Peace, pray for us!
Considering the short lead time between the Pope’s announcement and the 7th of September I wonder how many Catholics will even hear about it? Father Z brings up this topic and wonders about possible remedies.
Certainly the media isn’t going to get the word out for the most part since there are three times as many stories about the Pope’s alleged “selfie” compared to his call for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria.
As far as I can tell most diocese and parishes really have no way to quickly get the word out in a situation like this where the parishes bulletin or an announcement ahead of time is not really possible.
Although there is an excellent solution that should be much better known. The service flocknote started by Matthew Warner is really the perfect solution for both regular communication and special cases like this. I wish my diocese had this.
During the last papal election the service popealarm.com provided a white smoke alert and supposedly they are continuing with sending information to those who signed up regarding something “particularly noteworthy.” I would say the Pope’s call for this day of prayer an fasting should be something they notified people about.
Really we need a kind of amber alert for prayer, or should I say Ember alert.
Canonist Ed Peters posts on “A fast on Sept 7 is not canonically required, but…”
Granting that popes are not held to the same canonical standards as are diocesan bishops in regard to their manner of establishing obligatory days of penance (1983 CIC 331, 1244), I do not think that Pope Francis “proclamation” of September 7 as a day of fast and prayer for peace in Syria is canonically binding on the faithful. The manner of the proclamation used (an Angelus talk) and not used (e.g., publication in the AAS), and of the vocabulary used (e.g., invitation) and not used (e.g., decree, direct) suggests the urgent-but-still-exhortative character of the pope’s plea, not its binding character. Besides, in cases of “doubt of law”, potential obligations are not binding (1983 CIC 14, 18).
In short, a Catholic who does not observe a fast on Sept 7 does not violate canon law. What such disregard for the pope’s unusual request might indicate about one’s desire to act with the Successor of Peter is another question. + + +
Be there or be square.